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Women in Leadership Summit: “Growing Stronger Together”

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“Growing stronger together” is the theme and motto of the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce Women in Leadership Summit, an event set to take place 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM March 5th at Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Lane, Spring Hill.

“From the beginning of our planning process, we had a vision of what we wanted to achieve with this summit,” said Teri Nichols, who leads the summit planning committee and is the license owner of Spherion Staffing Services in Brooksville, an Empower Sponsor of the summit. “We want women to build each other’s confidence personally, engage in strategic networking, build leadership skills, and establish a purposeful career direction.”

To realize this vision, the chamber has invited a group of powerful women to attend and make their voices heard at the Women in Leadership Summit. The event’s keynote speaker is Fawn Germer, the best-selling author of nine books including Oprah’s Book Club selection, Hard Won Wisdom. Ranked 19th on the prestigious Global Gurus List of the Best Leadership Speakers Worldwide, Germer is one of two women in the top 25 on the prestigious “Guru List,” and has keynoted for nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies.

“We have many good women leaders,” said Germer, also a four-time, Pulitzer-nominated investigative journalist who has personally interviewed more than 300 accomplished women leaders, including Olympic athletes, CEOs, prime ministers, presidents, and Academy Award winners. “But we haven’t even come close to harnessing our power.”

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Aside from delivering a keynote address, Germer will oversee an interactive panel and question and answer experience featuring other event speakers.

“As a journalist, I want to ask questions about leadership,” she said. “I want these leaders to share and show what they learned the hard way.”

Ultimately, Germer said that the focus of the summit is to educate–and, ultimately, to support.

“Women shouldn’t be competing,” she said. “We should be helping each other.”

One of the women scheduled to speak on the panel will be Eileen Rodriguez, Regional Director, NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), Certified Trainer, Florida Small Business Development Center at USF Tampa, with a specialty in International Business, Women/Minority Business Certification. Also a featured speaker at the event, Rodriguez agreed that “teamwork does work.”

“Being in business is never easy. And women in business often share similar experiences,” said Rodriguez, who has more than 22 years of experience as a professional businesswoman and has won the MED Corp’s Minority Business Advocate Award in 2017; Hispanic Leadership Class Award in Business from the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc., in 2013; Status of Latino Staff Award from USF in 2013; and the Pathways Award from USF. “When women work together, we’re more apt to succeed.”

Rodriguez also feels that events such as this one, much like the services offered at the Florida Small Business Development Center, come complete with a definite educational component.

“We need to let people know about the resources out there available to them to start their businesses,” she said. “They do have options. And, as women today often feel that they have to be Superwoman, they should know that it’s OK for them to ask for help.”

The spirit of other powerful women will be felt at the summit, which marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote–a right fought for and earned by a global group of suffragette activists. And the event’s logo features an empowering image of Rosie the Riveter, a logo that depicted a female industrial worker with her fist raised in the air. A logo that inspired and empowered American women to take factory and industrial jobs in WWII, keeping the country running as men fought overseas.

At the Women in Leadership Summit, the leadership panel also will feature Tina Ryman–who, along with husband Maurice Ryman–founded Marker 48 Brewing and Complete Technology Solutions in Weeki Wachee–and Leanne Salazar, past Chief Operating Officer of Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville recently promoted to the position of Chief Nurse Executive for HCA’s West Florida Division effective January 1, 2020.

“All of these women (at the summit) are incredible role models,” said Nichols. “So amazing and supportive.”

Breakfast and lunch will be served at the summit; and, according to Nichols, both food and food for thought will be served up at lunchtime; when Valerie Ciaccio–

Community Relations at Bayfront Health Brooksville/Spring Hill and a comic and show host–and Charlotte Edwards, owner of Training Solutions by Charlotte Edwards in Brooksville, will moderate an enjoyable communication game.

“We will play a fun game we created called Communiversity, where we teach lessons about communication,” said Nichols.

Nichols said that sponsorships are needed for the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce Women in Leadership Summit. 

Admission for the Women in Leadership Summit is $60 per person, which includes continental breakfast and lunch. To register, visit https://hernandochamber.chambermaster.com/eventregistration/register/27384. For more information, call Lisa Callea, Director of Events, Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, at (352) 593-9979, or write [email protected]

The entire summit, said chamber president/CEO Patricia Crowley, adheres to the chamber’s mission of promoting advocacy, training, networking, and other core values. And as these goals are pursued, presenters and attendants always will keep another key goal in mind.

“This summit,” Nichols said, “is all about empowering women to be leaders.” 


Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein has over 35 years experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist working with neurologically impaired adults. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of South Florida in Speech Pathology.
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